The dawn of our final day came quickly. We were packed and ready. All our preparations had been completed, except one very important one.
We'd spread the word to the people in the Valley, and now Clark, Dot, and I stood in the clearing next to the palace, waiting to see who would respond.
King Mordecai spotted us from his window in the palace and came out to investigate.
"We've issued an invitation to join us here for a word of prayer and supplication before we depart," answered Clark.
"Prayer ... to whom?" he asked, suspiciously.
"To the One True God, the Creator," replied Clark with a confidant smile. "To Jesus the Christ."
He nodded. "Then I am where I should be," he replied.
Two women from Woodward's group arrived next. The epic events of the last few days had instilled in them a renewed respect for God. Following them, moving at a half-jog up the path from the pyramid, came Amy. She was out of breath. "Am I too late?"
"No," replied Dot, giving her a sisterly embrace. Amy was doing much better than any of had expected, much in part to the herbal treatments of the Mayans. They had allowed her to take samples of the herbs out of the Valley, a rare honor.
Over the next few minutes, others came. Jodie Sims joined them, and Bonnie Clayton. "I've seen too much not to know there's somebody out there coverin' our butts," commented Bonnie. "Puttin' in a word with the Guy In Charge before we set sail into those winds is a good idea."
Several others of Woodward's group approached, but just stood offside and watched. They were there more out of curiosity than participation.
Pat and Woodward arrived together. "So here's where you are," commented Pat.
"Care to join us?" offered Clark.
She hesitated. "Doc, I know you got religion, and I had my doubts because of that. I even called you weak because of it. But now I see there's more to this than I thought."
Next she turned to me and Dot.
Her voice was faltering for a moment, as if it was hard for her to express herself. "I remembered you, from Lincoln City, and New York. You were in disguise then, and you were nothing but an irritant to me. But here ... you've both risked your lives for mine. You had nothing to gain, and everything to lose." She paused. "I don't know how I can ever repay you."
Dot didn't hesitate to step forward and give Pat a hug as I simply said, "It's okay."
"Pat, will you join us?" asked Dot.
Her voice was thoughtful. "If you don't mind, I'd like to watch."
"No harm in that," replied Clark. "What about you, Ms. Woodward?"
"I don't know ... I mean, it doesn't take an Einstein to know that the Man Upstairs has been putting in some overtime hours on our behalf." She paused. "I went to Sunday School a long time ago, but ... I'm not sure ... with all the crap I've done, I don't even know if He'd listen to me." She paused again. "You guys pray, I'll watch with Pat."
A few of Monja's children walked into the clearing. They told us that there were still a couple of their brothers and sisters who stoutly refused to forgive Pat for her actions, but those who had forgiven were far from giving up hope. "After all," said Miriam with a smile. "We are the children of our mother -- and she was a very stubborn woman."
Clark extended his arms to them. "That she was. I am honored to have you join us."
A few minutes passed without any additional participants. Clark looked as if he would start things, when we suddenly saw a young boy running towards us. Out of breath, he collided into Clark's arms. Panting, he looked up and asked in Mayan, "Honored one, you have not started yet?"
"No," replied Clark. "Why?"
Dot, staring ahead, abruptly put a hand on my shoulder. "Hon -- we're gonna have company!"
"What are you -" I started to say, then followed her gaze and froze.
It was a multitude.
From where we stood, it looked like every man, woman, and child from the village was going to be joining us in prayer. The clearing filled up quickly, and they still kept coming.
I looked over at Clark. There was a look of awe and wonder on his face, and tears of joy slid freely down his cheeks.
"It's a beautiful thing to see what your father started," I commented.
"Both of them," he replied, and I understood.
As the people settled in around us, Clark leaned towards me and asked, "Do you think you could translate my prayer from Mayan to English?"
I looked at the growing crowd, overwhelmingly Mayan, and nodded. "I'd be honored. Just keep it simple, okay?" I grinned.
Clark raised his arms high, and the crowd hushed. He looked out at the people, then upwards, and a smile came to his lips. Then, with a deep breath, he began in fluent Mayan: "Dear Heavenly Father, God of all Creation, we thank You ..."
Clark and King Mordecai stood on the bank of the river by the blue Osprey. They faced one another as friends and brothers, and clasped arms.
"Goodbye, Doc Savage, and safe journey."
"Before your mother died, she told of how proud she was of all her children, and that she knew you would be a fine successor. She was right. Do well, King Mordecai."
"Once this is all over, I will return. I would like to visit here often. I regret being too busy to do that before."
"I will welcome your return," he said. "My Valley is your Valley, my people your people. You and your friends are always welcome."
"Thank you again. Farewell."
In years to come, many would refer to this as the Day of the Metal Birds.
Either out of curiosity or excitement, few could keep away. The natives lined the sides of the lake, showing a fond farewell to the famous Man of Bronze and his friends. The chopping of the many rotors was a strong enough image in itself, as the combined sounds of two Ospreys and three helicopters reverberating off the walls of the Valley was unavoidable.
Blue Thunder was the first to move, cruising across the lake and suddenly taking to the air. It banked right and began a slow circle about the inner rim of the Valley.
Then the small Huey took to the air, followed by the larger Chinook helicopters. They hovered, and took their position on either side of the river.
Finally, Pat's pilots professionally lifted the Osprey into the air and hovered a moment over the golden pyramid.
"Okay, Gumball," said Clark from the co-pilot seat. "It's your show."
"Thank you, Doc." He keyed the microphone. "Blue Thunder to Exodus Wing," he addressed the newly-named group of aircraft. "Okay, everybody -- here we go! Valkryies, cue the music!"
From the Chinooks' sound system, music played. It was a familiar piece for those inside the aircraft, and brought a grin to Gumball's face.
"The 'Raiders' March?" asked Clark with a tilt of the head.
Gumball nodded excitedly. "Yeah, ain't it somethin'? I had the CD and they had the sound system! So I thought we might as well head out in style!" He keyed the microphone again. "Okay, Exodus Wing ... FOLLOW ME!"
Blue Thunder made once last curve and went straight up the lake and through the narrow mouth of the Valley. Behind it, as if caught in its wake, was Pat's Osprey, then the three helicopters. From the ground, it was a magnificent sight, augmented by the dramatic music.
It would be an image that would long be remembered.